“What Goes Up” by the Deer Creek Boys

The Deer Creek Boys
What Goes Up
Mountain Fever Records
3½ stars (out of 5)

By Larry Stephens

They have the pedigrees. The band includes brothers Justin (guitar and vocals) and Jason (bass and vocals) Tomlin, Cason Ogden (mandolin and vocals, and Andy Lowe (banjo), all expert musicians who have been playing bluegrass for years.

The majority of the tracks were (co)composed by one or other of the Tomlin brothers. The first four tracks share a common theme: bluegrass picking with lyrics of angst and love, albeit from a bit of a CMT country perspective, rather than the tear-in-your-beer style you’d hear from Junior Sisk or Jimmy Martin.

Lowe’s banjo always sounds good as does Ogden’s mandolin, especially on “Grey Ghost” (Ogden/Tomlin), an upbeat number with a Civil War theme that has an interesting chord progression and rings my bluegrass bell.

Jeff Partin guests on resonator guitar on three tracks including “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” This is an unusual number, with minimal instrumental backing, based on a poem by Robert W. Service with the musical arrangement by the band and multi–instrumentalist Aaron Ramsey.

“Little White Church” brings things back to bluegrass after this number with a stout banjo kick off—though this one’s been recorded innumerable times I enjoy this take quite a bit.

Molly Cherryholmes adds fiddles to “Some Kind of Beautiful,” another Jason Tomlin number that fits the CMT country mold. It’s a good number, a love song without the angst of the first four tracks. Aaron Ramsey guests with the resonator guitar on “This One Life You Live,” a song with a message about living a good life.

Deer Creek Boys